“The eighth chapter of the Book of Leviticus brings us to the Israelites’ encampment at the foot of Mount Sinai, after their march through the scorching desert. Here we find the entire community assembled at the entrance of the tabernacle, before Aaron and his sons disappear inside for seven days to be ordained as priests of the Lord. As part of this long and mysterious rite, they become extensions of the altar of sacrifice—the altar is anointed with oil, and Aaron is anointed with oil; the altar’s extremities and base are anointed with blood, and Aaron’s extremities and foot are anointed with blood. As is the rite’s requirement, Aaron and his sons burn sacrifices. The Lord then brings the ordination rite to a dramatic conclusion as flames rush from the Lord’s presence to completely consume the sacrifices on the altar (Lev 9:23-24). By that same act, the Lord’s divine fire sanctifies the fire that Aaron and his sons originally kindled on the altar. Keeping in mind Aaron’s new connection with the altar, we can understand that the Lord igniting and sanctifying the altar is a visible sign of his Spirit igniting and sanctifying those who are to serve Him as priests.
The Rite of Ordination today does not involve setting anyone on fire—for obviously good reasons—but this account from Leviticus presents a powerful image of the Holy Spirit igniting the heart of the priest. The priesthood is not a matter of doing, but of being. Jesus Christ conforms the ordained man to Himself as both priest and altar. The heart of the priest is connected to the new altar of sacrifice: the Cross of Christ. At this new altar, the priest unites his own sacrifice and the sacrifice of his flock to the glory of God the Father at the Mass. No man is worthy of the grace of being conformed to Christ. It is the work of God. Adding wood to a pile will never make it catch fire. The ignition must come from outside because it is a sharing in the divine nature of God, Who Himself “is a consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24). To stress the importance of this, God commanded Moses that “the fire on the altar is to be kept burning; it must not go out” (Lev 6:5). In fact, in this same place God gives this commandment three times! The fire on the altar of the priest’s heart must not go out. Should the fire stop, the heart ceases to share in God, the very source of its burning. All that would remain is a heart of cold ashes.
Were there ever bonfires that were brighter and hotter than the one on the altar of sacrifice? Of course. But the fire on the altar was the one that God chose as the only one acceptable for sacrifice (Lev 10:1-2). Are there people who seem like they could do “the job” of a priest better? Of course. But the priest is the one whom God chose, regardless of that man’s failings and the brokenness of his human nature. A man is not a priest because of what he does, a man is a priest because of what God has done.”
Love, pray for our priests,
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom